Menopause law rejection sparks Tory row after discrimination claim

Express demonstrates a quick menopause home workout

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Among the other recommendations made by the cross-party group was the introduction of menopause leave, under which a woman would be able to take leave from work if they were suffering from severe menopausal symptoms.

In common with the protected characteristic proposal, this was also rejected by the government.

Publishing their response on protected characteristics, they warned of “uintended consequences whichy may inadvertently create new forms of discrimination, for exampe, discrimination risk towards men suffering from long-term medical conditions”.

Protected characteristics are a specific set of circumstance under which it is illegal to discriminate against; examples include disability, age, and race to name just a few.

As to why menopause leave had been rejected, they wrote that it wasn’t “necessary” and could be “counterproductive”. 

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The rejection has caused consternnation and surprise among government MPs such as Caroline Nokes who has since questioned the government’s committement to women going through the menopause.

In a letter to the Health Minister she wrote how “very little new work ahs been committed to by the government” and said she was worried that the “significant evidence base” was being ignored.

Furthermore, Nokes also noted that the response to the proposals was three and half months before adding that the report was a “missed opportunity to protect vast numbers of talented and experienced women from leaving the workforce, and leaves me unconvinced that menopause is a government priority”.

In a statement, Nokes said: “The evidence to our inquiry was crystal clear that urgent action was needed across healthcare and work settings to properly address women’s needs, yet government progress has been glacial and its response complacent,” she said in a statement.

“Its refusal to even consult on reforming equalities law doesn’t make sense and we urge it to look again.”

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In response, a government spokesperson said: “We recognise that the menopause can be a challenging time for women, which is why we have put women’s health at the top of the agenda as part of the first-ever women’s health strategy for England.

“We are implementing an ambitious programme of work with the NHS to improve menopause care so all women can access the support they need.

“We encourage employers to be compassionate and flexible to the needs of their employees, and are committed to supporting more flexible working patterns – having consulted on making flexible working the default unless employers have good reasons not to.”

The report comes at a time when a new poll suggests healthcare for women in the United Kingdom is worse than that in China and as poor as Kazakhstan.

What is the menopause?

The NHS says the menopause occurs “when your periods stop due to lower hormone levels. This usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55. It can sometimes happen earlier naturally. Or for reasons such as surgery to remove the ovaries (oophorectomy) or the uterus (hysterectomy), cancer treatments like chemotherapy, or a genetic reason.”

In common with a range of health conditions, menopause can produce an unpredictable bevy of symptoms including, but not limited to:

  • Hot flushes
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Heart palpitations
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Anxiety
  • Depression.

Last year, menopause was brought further into the public’s consciousness when the UK began to run low on supplies of HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) that helps alleviate the symptoms.

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